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Scratch Art Family Portrait for Kids to Make

colourful scratch art for kids to make - Happy Hooligans

Kids can use the classic crayon and paint technique, to make a scratch art family portrait to give as a gift to a parent or grandparent. 

I am super-stoked to share another fun and easy art project with you today!  Grab the crayons and the black paint.  We using one of our favourite art processes – scratch art – to make a framed family portrait to give to a loved one for Christmas or a birthday.

Do you remember doing scratch art in art class when you were a kid?

It was one of my favourite art techniques when I was in grade school, and it still is!

colourful scratch art for kids to make - Happy Hooligans

Along with crayon resisist art and melted wax art, it’s one of my all-time favourite ways to get creative with crayons.

If you’re not familiar with the scratch art process, it’s a layer of crayon covered with paint.  When you scratch through the paint, the colourful crayon wax underneath is revealed.

To young children, the process seems quite magical.  For older children, it’s rather mesmerizing and addictive.  Once you try it, you’ll see what I mean.  Betcha can’t make just one!

scratch art family portrait by childscratch art family portrait by child

We’re all about making homemade gifts for the holidays right now, and I’ve been wanting to do a family portrait craft with the kids for a while. This morning, I spied some black, dollar-store picture frames sitting among our craft supplies and BINGO, my plan came together: scratch art family portraits!

Let me show you how we made them!

For your scratch art family portrait, you’ll need:



  • inexpensive picture frame
  • white card stock or poster board
  • crayons in bright, light colours
  • black tempera paint or poster paint
  • paint brush
  • craft stick (or wooden skewer or toothpicks)

Making your scratch art portrait

Begin by cutting your card stock or poster board to fit your picture frame.

Next, gather up the brightest, boldest crayons you can find.  I say “bright and bold” because you need contrast between the crayon colours and the black paint.  Dark crayons won’t give you that. For a vibrant “pop”, go with colours like lime green, turquoise, yellow, orange, pink, lavender etc.

Now you’re going to colour your card stock or poster board.  Cover your paper with lots of random stripes and blocks of colour.  Bend your lines, colour at crazy angles.  The more colour you can cram onto your page the better.

page coloured with crayons for scratch artpage coloured with crayons for scratch art

Thin sections of colour are better than thick ones. You’ll get a better variation of colour in your finished project.

When your page is completely covered in crayon and there’s no white showing through, it’s time to give it a coat of paint.

One coat of black Tempera paint should do the trick.

painting over crayons with black tempera paintpainting over crayons with black tempera paint

You’ll find that the crayon resists the paint at first, but keep painting. After a few swipes with the brush, your paint will adhere to the wax.

When the crayon is entirely covered with black paint, set it aside to dry.

And now, it’s time to scratch your art!

Pro Tip:

A word of advice:  This isn’t a “messy” project, but I would advise you to place a piece of newspaper or something similar underneath because as you scratch the paint off, it turns to a powder. Clean up is easy when you can just tip the newspaper into the garbage when you’re finished.

scratch art family portrait drawn by childscratch art family portrait drawn by child

Get scratching!  You’re going to create your art using your craft stick as if it were a pencil. You can draw pictures, write messages, or in our today, create a hand-drawn family portrait.

When your picture is finished, gently tap off any loose paint powder.

Look at the colours of the leaves in that tree.  Aren’t they gorgeous?

crayon and black paint artcrayon and black paint art

And look at this colourful family surrounded by hearts and home.  So full of love!

When your masterpiece is finished, pop it into the frame, and BAM, suddenly that dollar store frame looks like a million bucks!

crayons craft sticks and scratch art drawing in black framecrayons craft sticks and scratch art drawing in black frame

And now you have a beautiful scratch art family portrait to proudly display in your home.

I’m fairly certain any parent or grandparent who receives a hand-drawn family portrait will be very pleased indeed.

And now your kids can go ahead and use this process to make homemade Christmas cards and gift tags for the holidays!

Scratch Art family portrait kids can makeScratch Art family portrait kids can make

More easy gifts that kids can make:

Paper Mache Bowls

Tie Dye Fridge Magnets

Painted Rock Paper Weights

Cardboard Picture Frames


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